Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You might think no one's listening, but they are

After the last few days, I'm quite frankly drained. I was going to write another one of those "rallying call" stories, for everyone to buck up, stiff upper lip and all that. But instead I figured I'd tell you a little story about something that happened yesterday in the mist of Alito madness. Something that has changed my whole view of our little blogtopia.

Something that shows me that we really do have the opportunity to get things done.

Please bear with me here, but I will try to tell this story as briefly and coherently as possible.

It' started back in Sept. when outraged by the Katrina situation, I posted this story up on the big orange board:

The "Rubberstamp Congress" Strategy for 2006

For six years every Republican in Washington has attached himself to Bush like a Siamese twin. All we have to do is make sure they don't have a chance to distance themselves from his decisions. The message is simple:

"We need a congress that will ask the tough questions, and do the hard work necessary to solve this nation's problems and not just RUBBERSTAMP every decision coming out of the White House. We don't need a congress that's so politically one sided that no one dares question the wisdom of making appointments based on ideology and politics rather than qualifications. We don't need a congress that's willing to make decisions based solely upon political partisanship, unwilling to question the wisdom of any policy or program that comes out of the White House. We don't need a congress that's just a bunch of yes-men, towing the party line. We face some of the most challenging times in our nations history and it will take real innovative thinking to solve these problems and meet these challenges. We need a congress that is willing to look for real solutions, not just how to score political points with the boss."

Holding Bush accountable for his actions is good.....Making every Republican Congressmen or Senator accountable is better.... Who failed in Katrina? Who failed in Iraq? Who failed on 9-11? Who failed on the economy? Who failed on gas prices? Who failed to find bin Laden? Who failed on education? Every Republican that rubberstamped Bush's policies and appointments without question or inspection, hell, sometimes without even reading them, that's who failed. Brown, Chertoff, Tenet, the CIA, the FBI, no WMD's, they're all the Republican Congress's fault for not asking the tough question, for not doing their jobs.

If we can organize this frame and stick to it like glue, everything that Bush does (or doesn't do) between now and 2006 becomes another weight around the necks of the Republican Congress


Ok … A few people read the story and commented. My buddy Highacidity created a great graphic and posted it up, and after the usual few hours, the story fell off the board into diary oblivion. It made no impact really, just another dKos rambling.

Yesterday afternoon, I went cruising around big orange looking for a distraction from all the Alito ruckus and came across this:

Preempting SOTU: Exclusive dkos Rubberstamp Website Release, New DCCC Ad on Fox News

On Tuesday night, President Bush will have an opportunity to broadcast his framing of 2006 and the next set of Republican sham policies without fact-check and without interruption - except for the raucous applause of Republicans in Congress. His bully pulpit will be at its zenith - but we can fight back and give the Republicans a healthy dose of reality. That's why we at the DCCC are picking Tuesday to launch an entire new website, as well as a new TV ad airing on Fox News in the hours leading up to his speech. But we thought it would be fun to give the dkos community an advance look. Click on the graphic to see the ad, go below the fold for the dkos username and password for our new "Rubberstamp" site exposing the ways in which your local Republicans have substituted blind obedience to President Bush for any semblance of loyalty to their constituents...

I've seen many insights into this here, but it's worth reiterating that these are the themes we need to hammer home. The ethics problems engulfing the GOP are not a distraction from the Republican agenda - they are the Republican agenda. Tom DeLay and President Bush have orchestrated a pay-for-play agenda the likes of which we haven't seen in at least a century, and the rest of the Republicans in Congress have rubber stamped it every step of the way. On every issue where massive, powerful special interests have gotten average Americans under their thumb, the Republicans have sold out to enshrine that imbalance in law -- any Democratic legislation that tries to protect working Americans is barred from even reaching the House Floor.

We'll be releasing this site to the public tomorrow at a press conference, but wanted to let you guys get an advance look at the goods. The idea is to document just how thoroughly Republicans have abdicated their responsibilities as Members of Congress to rubber stamp President Bush's special interest giveaways. We want to show America that the culture of corruption has a cost, and that the local man or woman they've been sending to Washington has been a willing, eager participant.


At this point I am quite frankly blown away, then I move down to leave a comment. The first comment I see is by my buddy Highacidity, with the "Rubber Stamp" graphic she had made for me.

Sounds like a similar... (4.00 / 4)

... train of thought Kossack Duke1676 was exploring in this diary last September


The response from the DCCC rep:

Yup (4.00 / 2)

I believe that was one of the "insights" I was referring to.

Online Editor for the DCCC

You could knock me over with a feather.

So here's the little lesson I take away from this:

Although at times like these we feel like no one really listens to us, or cares about our concerns, but people really are listening. People who have more power than us to make things happen, people who hear our words and have the ability to take action on them.

So tonight when I turn on FOX (that'll be a first) to see the ad run, and think about the possible effect it might have, I'll crack a cold one, put up my feet, and have a huge grin on my face. Just knowing that in some miniscule way my voice was heard and I possibly played a small part in changing the current paradigm is enough for me.

That's enough … it fuels my fire.

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Why we fight.

In the wake of what feels like a crushing defeat, I think we need to step away for a moment and look at why we, internet activists, bloggers, or whatever we are to be called, do what we do in the first place.

What is it that drives us to research, write, discuss, organize, or take action? Why do we gather by the thousands in virtual communities daily to hear news and opinion? Why do we spend endless hours discussing issues and strategies? Why do we, in times of defeat and despair find comfort in each others company … and eventually, dust ourselves off and rejoin the battle?

Although each of us could probably list scores of different reasons why we do what we do, in the end of the day it would all come down to one thing; we are all here because in spite of all our cynicism and jaded rhetoric, we really do believe that we have the power to provoke change.

We all know, in some sort of an almost primal, subconscious way, that we are at the epicenter of one of the great seismic shifts in the way our society will be governed.

On one hand, we recognize the enormous potential influence of the internet and internet activism to give voice and power to the American people. We can imagine a not so distant future where average citizens will have their voices heard in the halls of power and their concerns addressed as they have never been addressed before.

On the other, we see our democracy threatened in ways it's never been threatened before. We see those in power disregard many of the tenets on which our nation was founded and hold them in near contempt. We watch as our leaders dismantle our Constitution and Bill of Rights piece by piece in an attempt to maintain power. We see those whom we elect to represent us either taking part in this rape of democracy, or standing by impotently, unable to stop them.

It is this dichotomy that compels us … it is the reason why we fight.

This is why when things like the 2004 election, or the Alito confirmation occur we take our defeats so hard. The stakes are so important, and our potential to effect change so great, we have a hard time reconciling the fact that we do not yet have the power to attain our goals.

But this should be no mystery to us. We learned this lesson in Junior High science. There is a great difference between potential energy and kinetic energy.

We have massive amounts of potential energy … we are yet to figure out a way to harness and release it. In physics, there is often a device or tool that transforms potential energy into kinetic. We are still just starting the process of building those tools. Organizational tools, communication tools, networking tools, strategy tools are all being tested and refined with each grand campaign we engage in.

We have learned many lessons so far … and have many more to learn

But … we should not take the knowledge we have gained thus far and it only on the "grand campaigns," the Gannons, the Downing Street Memos and Alitos. We must take what we learn from each of these battles and transfer that knowledge to the small battles that will eventually help lead us to victory.

When there is no "grand campaign" to fight we need to still remain focused. Congressional races, Senatorial races, Governorships, State Assemblies , City Councils, all the way down to the local schools board, should all be of concern. We should refine the tools we have acquired thus far and work on new ones. Eventually, through trial and error in these "skirmishes" we will figure out new ways to harness the enormous potential we have, and we will turn it into the energy needed to effect change.

We need to focus on helping those who support our beliefs and policies. Conversely, it is even more important to oppose those who don't share our concerns … no matter what their party. Some of our greatest enemies right now are not those who we clearly recognize, but those who claim to be our allies yet fail to stand up and be counted.

Each time we retreat in defeat, lose focus, start to squabble amongst ourselves or play the blame game we're just losing valuable time.

Our opponents do not waver in their quest. Scandals, indictments, falling poll numbers, unfavorable world opinion, a failed foreign policy, losing a war, losing a major city, and losing the lives of thousand of US soldiers, these things do not deter them.

That is why we fight.

cross posted at Booman Tribune

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Welcome to Manning the Barricades

It is ironic that on this day, when so many are discouraged by the current turn of events viv a vis the Alito confirmation, I am launching Manning the Barricades.

Manning the Barricades was conceived as a site where I could condense all the writings I've done on the various IraqFact affiliated blogs and of course those from the community blogs as well.

I felt it was time to have a central location where all my work could be posted. Up until now I've posted my work on immigration reform at Migra Matters, my work on the Iraq war at Iraqfact, and of course all the rest at the numerous community blogs.

Although I will continue that practice ... Manning the Barricades will be the central location where I will be posting everything, no matter what topic.

I chose the name "Manning the Barricades" because I feel it reflects my belief that we of the internet activist community really are the vanguard of a growing movement to take back our nation from the powers that now control it.

All I can say to those so disheartened by current turn of events … hang in … we're gaining momentum … we're just starting to man the barricades for the fights to come


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